There needs to be a business discussion about data centre consolidation in parallel with technical discussions.
In many areas of IT, we’re now quite accustomed to considering business and technical issues in parallel. For example, the business aspects of desktop computing can be discussed alongside issues of an organisation’s specific PC requirements.
Having grown up discussions about data centres still seems to be quite challenging, and many organisations lapse into discussions of power requirements and location before many of the business issues have been resolved.
While technical issues need to be addressed, there is a need for data centre discussions to cross the divide, and include considerations around business strategies, including those around the processes and people involved.
Developments in relation to the Canberra data centre, is an example of this. Location of the proposed data centre became a hot issue in the recent ACT elections, and there was fierce lobbying to have the data centre, initially proposed for Tuggeranong, moved to another location.
Data centre consolidation is an issue for many in federal and state government. However, it seems some of the business discussion seems to have been overlooked in the rush to get underway.
Data centre consolidation gained momentum in Federal Government following recommendations of the Gershon Review. The Government recently established a whole-of-government data centre Working Group with representation from a cross-section of agencies, tasked with developing a coordinated approach to managing data centres.
To guide its work, the Working Group has invited industry representatives to make a presentation to the Working Group. Last week, the Department of Finance issued an Australian Government Data Centre Industry Consultation document providing guidance to ICT industry representatives in preparing their presentations.
According to this document, the meetings will provide the ICT industry sector an opportunity to engage with the Working Group, an opportunity to inform the considerations regarding relevant data centre issues to the Working Group to help in forming the whole‑of‑government data centre strategy.
Judging by the information provided to industry, it seems the Government is focused on technical issues around data centres, perhaps without fully developing the required business strategies.
It’s important we have a business discussion about data centre consolidation in parallel with any discussion of the bricks and mortar and technical issues. Otherwise, the process may become overly focused on technical issues before the strategic options and business scenarios have been considered.
The questions the Working Group has asked industry representatives to focus on:
- Optimum physical locations and specifications (such as power and cooling)
- Management of facilities including approaches to management of multi-tenant facilities
- Average costs and how are these expected to change over the next 15 years
- Strategies accommodate growth and data centre technology developments
- Strategies to improve the green credentials of data centres
- Other key issues for the Working Group in developing short, medium and long term strategies
The meetings with industry have been scheduled for 17, 24 and 31 March 2009.